Often I refer back to the founding of our great country and I am constantly amazed at the ability of those founders to work through some very emotional and trying issues to come up with a system of governance that has worked well for over 200 years. The founders were split between a weak central government (Antifederalist) and a strong central government (Federalist). The Federalists won out in that struggle with compromise in that the Federal government would be limited, and I feel their success was our gain.
There were many other reasons that the Federalists gave for wanting a central form of government with controls such as the best form of government is the one closest to the people because it can best know what the people want and need. There are volumes written about Federalism which shows the importance that our founders placed on the issue. The way I see it, over the last 50 to 80 years we have forgotten the lessons of the past and the advice our founders gave us and have gradually ceded the decentralized controls of power to the Federal Government.
This power grab and willing release of power by the states has come about by two seemingly minor instances. First, the federal legislative branch has gradually allowed executive branch departments and divisions to write rules with little oversight. The departments of the Federal Government have soaked away the powers that legitimately belong to the State. In the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it specifically states that “Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people”.
The 10th Amendment is a powerful amendment in that it tells the Federal Government that its power is limited, and the States power is superior, as is the power of the people. So, over the years, this power struggle between a weak central government has been won by the Federal Government and it has gained significantly more power than it was meant to have.
Secondly, a great compromise was arrived at by the Founders of our great country to keep the power of the States equal or greater than that of the Federal government. That compromise was to have representation based on population, which are the Congressional delegates we vote on every two years and to have a representative body that represents the State to provide representation for the state and keep the states equal in stature. That body is the U.S. Senate, and the Senators were appointed by State Legislators originally but the 17th Amendment to the Constitution changed how Senators were appointed and made them elected officials just like Representatives but with longer terms.
In my opinion, these two seemingly simple issues have done a lot of damage to our Federalist system of governance. So, what can be done to reverse this trend? First, states need to step up to the plate and take their power back and they can do that through their state legislatures and through judicial action. A bill that I filed this year would review all Executive Orders by the president and if they are found to not be constitutional, then the state will not enforce them. These are the kinds of things that will begin to turn the tide and return power back to the governance that our founders rightly thought of as the best form of governance for our country.